The lead investigator in the faux hate crime case against former Empire star Jussie Smollett testified on Tuesday that Smollett gathered resources for a "dry run" of the hoax in downtown Chicago two days earlier.
Former Chicago Police Department Detective Michael Theis said the two brothers originally arrested and charged with the alleged attack on Smollett said Smollett had texted them to meet him to go over the plan, the Associated Press reported.
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“This was horrible. I mean, the crime was a hate crime, but a horrible hate crime. There was a noose. There was bleach,” Theis said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “It was local news. It was national news, international news. Everyone wanted to know what happened, from the mayor on down."
Theis explained the case attracted widespread attention because law enforcement initially assumed it was a real hate crime after Smollett, who is black and gay, told police he was attacked by supporters of then-President Donald Trump. He said the police mobilized resources and spent over 3,000 hours investigating it, the Associated Press reported.
Theis said the police concluded the incident was a hoax orchestrated by Smollett.
He added that the two brothers told police that Smollett offered to pay them $3,500 to carry out the fake attack. Jurors were presented with the actual check Smollett wrote the brothers, the Chicago Tribune reported. Smollett claimed the check was given to them for personal training sessions.
Theis said police evaluated camera footage and other evidence that led them to conclude that Smollett had interacted with the brothers prior to the hoax. The "dry run" took place on Jan. 27, two days before the alleged Jan. 29 attack, he added.
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Smollett is on trial facing charges for disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. He claimed that men tied a noose around his neck, beat him, and poured bleach on him. If convicted, he could face a maximum of three years in prison.
Smollett's defense team is arguing that the brothers carried out the attack and then framed him. The trial is expected to last about one week.